Chinese state-run sovereign fund among bidders for Australian supplement firm Nature's Care

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

The Australian supplement company first attempted to find a buyer in 2016.
The Australian supplement company first attempted to find a buyer in 2016.

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A division of China's state-run investment fund is believed to be among the front runners to snap up Australian vitamin maker Nature's Care, as it embarks on its second sale attempt with a price tag of around $1bn.

In November, we reported that the company was being put up for sale​ for the second time since January 2016.

At the same time, the firm announced its intention to launch an $800m IPO early this year and be listed on the ASX.

Owned by the Wu family, Nature's Care is being positioned as a fast-growing company, with earnings of close to $60m in the 2017 financial year.

A sales prospectus doing the rounds shows the manufacturer's net sales increased 23% annually over the last three years, from $118.3m in the 2015 financial year to $142.6m in 2016, and then to $178.5m in 2017.

Additionally, the company holds a 7% market share in Australia's vitamin sector through its retail sales, making it the country's third largest brand after Swisse and Blackmores, which have a respective 20% and 19% market share.

Reports in the global financial press over the past couple of days suggest there are two frontrunners to make the acquisition.

According to Bloomberg, China Jianyin Investment Ltd., a unit of state-run China Investment Corp. known as JIC. is believed to be considering making a second-round bid.

Private ownership

Bain Capital and Chinese private equity firm Citic Capital are also said to be in the mix.

Nature's Care first went to the market in early 2016, but none of the interested parties could match the company's selling price of $1bn.

It was widely reported that there was an $800m bid on the table, but the firm decided to stay in the private ownership of the Wu family.

Towards the end of last year, Nature's Care appointed former Swisse CFO Tom Coleman as its CEO. It also hired former Blackmores exec Scott Shaw as its general sales manager.

Should the China deal go through, Nature's Care would follow Swisse as a high-profile Australian supplement firm to be taken over by an Asian outfit.

Swisse was taken over by the China-headquartered Biostime, now known as Health and Happiness, in 2016.

Formed in 1990, Nature's Care's products can be found in the US, Canada, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, and throughout Australia.

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